I can remember it very clearly when Google+ was still in beta search didn't exist. At all. It seems like a glaring omission, but it was an invite-only preview so I will cut them some slack. I tried to get #WaterfallWednesday off the ground about six weeks before they launched search and it was pretty stagnant. There was no way to lookup all the submissions, so most of my posts were missed.
Google launched search and shortly there after clickable hashtags to the benefit of the Google+ Daily Photography Themes. It was the wild west for a while. People were creating themes left and right. It was spiraling out of control. You certainly couldn't keep track of everything. Organically, +Melanie Kintz and I banded together to create a curated list. To much controversy, we didn't let everyone on because there was tons of overlap going on. For example, there were three or four water-centric themes and it just didn't makes sense to split it up so we promoted the most prominent theme of the bunch. This was met with tons of criticism because they felt like we were playing favorites when were were just trying to create a clean and healthy environment for the themes to thrive and grow. Looking back I still think it was the right choice.
Fast forward to today and we still just have one huge list of themes and their curators. Despite my effort to make it pretty, it's still big and it's a pain to use. Photographers may like to share a their latest photo with multiple themes. Some themes have multiple curators. It can lead to a heap of curators and hashtags to include in your post. It's very prone to errors and exclusions.
+Yves Goergen brought to my attention a new G+ feature. Normally You can + mention someone by typing a + and then a name to see a list of people that match what you've entered. Sometimes it doesn't always match who you're looking for. Sometimes they have unusual non-English letters on their name so you don't know how to input them. At the very least it's time consuming to tag all of the curators.
So the innovation lies in one's ability to type + followed by a curator's GUID in your post. When submitted, Google will automatically convert this into normal + mentions. It looks something like this +00000000000 where the zeros are 0-9 digits.
So back to the list. I've created a button by each theme that, when pressed, will copy the hashtag, the theme page (if one exists) and all the curators to the clipboard. At the end of your post, Ctrl (Cmd) - V to paste it in.
It's important to remember that they don't get converted to their actual username until the post is submitted. So it's just a matter of checking out the list, finding a theme, clicking the copy button and pasting it into your post.
I hope this post will help makes this whole process easier for you. Not only will it save you time, but it saves your brain cycles. When something is smooth and easy to deal with, I'm more likely to do it. So my goal is drive more participation to the themes! Enjoy. Check it out! Google+ Daily Photography Themes List
I'd appreciate it if you would checkout your theme listing and making sure I have all the current information. I know curators change and many have dedicated pages that I don't have listed. I may not have your theme listed at all. The list is too big to keep up to date on my own, so I need your help curators. Please let me know in the comments.
You're engaged and you're getting married in a month. You've hired a photographer and you need to make sure you get all the shots you want. The day of your wedding is fast paced and you've got bigger things on your mind than what poses need to be made. It's best if you and your photographer have a list of shots you've agreed upon so nothing gets skipped. When I book a wedding, I like to supply this list of shots to my clients so they know exactly what they're going to get. I also encourage them to write down any additional ideas they have and add them to the list for their wedding.
I also recommend you customize this list to fit your weddings needs. Depending on your religious and cultural background, there can be many different wedding traditions that differ. For example, you don't shoot the actually ceremony for an LDS wedding. Traditional Mexican weddings have the La Vibora de la Mar celebration during the reception. The groom will break a glass in a Jewish wedding.
So take some time to build your own shot list so you don't accidentally forget something.
- Wedding dress on a hanger
- Wedding invitation
- Engagement ring and wedding bands
- Bride and bridesmaids' bouquets
- Bride's jewelry
- Bride applying makeup
- Bridesmaids and/or mother of the bride helping the bride into her dress
- Putting on the veil
- Bride looking out a north-facing window
- Bride on staircase
- Groom tying his tie
- Groom pinning boutonniere on his father
- Father pinning boutonniere on the groom
- Leaving for the ceremony
- Groom checking the time
Before the Ceremony
- Bride alone
- Bride with mom and dad
- Bride with dad
- Bride with mom
- Bride with immediate family
- Bride with siblings
- Generational shot: Bride, mom, sister(s), grandmother
- Bride with mom and mother-in-law
- Bride with mother-in-law
- Bride with bridesmaids
- Bride with maid of honor
- Bride with flower girl(s)
- Groom alone
- Groom with mom and dad
- Groom with dad
- Groom with mom
- Groom with immediate family
- Groom with siblings
- Generational shot: Groom, father, brother(s), grandfather
- Groom with father and father-in-law
- Groom with father-in-law
- Groom with groomsmen
- Groom with best man
- Groom with ring bearer(s)
After the Ceremony
- Bride and groom (see the new must-have photos!)
- Bride, groom, bride's immediate family
- Bride, groom, bride's parents
- Bride, groom, groom's immediate family
- Bride, groom, groom's parents
- Bride, groom, both sets of parents
- Bride, groom, both immediate families
- Bride, groom, siblings
- Bride, groom, all grandparents
- Bride, groom, each grandparent (or set of grandparents)
- Bride and groom with extended families
- Bride, groom, maid of honor, best man
- Bride, groom, flower girl, ring bearer
- Bride with groomsmen
- Groom with bridesmaids
- Bride, groom, full wedding party
During the Ceremony
- The first looks, both bride and groom
- Shot of the whole scene with guests
- Wedding party and parents walking down the aisle
- Bride walking down the aisle
- Groom’s face as he waits/sees her
- The vows
- Close-up of the exchange of rings
- The first kiss as husband and wife
- The recessional
- Signing of marriage certificate
- Indoor and outdoor shots of the reception hall
- Close-up of seating-card display
- Close-up of centerpieces
- Shot of each table full of guests
- The first dance
- Father/daughter dance
- Mother/son dance
- The toasts
- The cake cutting
- Bouquet and garter toss
- Parents of bride dancing
- Parents of groom dancing
- Groom giving coat to bride
- Couple’s departure
You may have noticed there are more than 75 ideas here. I'm guilty as charged! There are tons of variations on what you can do making the list grow bigger. What do you consider "must-have" wedding shots that you would add to this list?
I was in this same place about a year ago when I launched a totally new website that was a combo Wordpress and custom made site all developed under a design that I purchased from ThemeForest.com. One of my biggest goals was to build my portfolio to work much like Flickr. It had to have this idea of a stream of photos that could be searched or organized by tag rather than into albums. I also wanted it to be heavily SEO optimized. I accomplished all of that and grew my traffic up to about 200 visits per day.
So why change all of that?
After making a few "Hello World" applications, I looked on for a framework or CMS that I could use to rapidly build a website. I found Docpad. It's genius lies in it's ability to write your website with any markup language you want and it will generate a static site for you. So the pages aren't generated from a database on the fly for every page load. Static sites like a blog don't really need a database at all. I had to completely re-wire my brain because I was brainwashed into thinking my website had to be database driven.
The last piece of the puzzle was the actual design of my website. Design is my weak point and I can't afford to hire a designer. Sifting through template sites is very unsatisfying because they are never 100% what I'm looking for. In steps the Twitter CSS framework, Bootstrap. It's basically a set of pre-configured styles with a simple scaffolding system for effortless layouts. It makes building a nice website fast and easy. It also supports responsive design out of the box. This allows my site to grow and shrink as the screen size changes. So it looks great on everything between a cell phone and a huge desktop monitor.
I have three goals I wanted to achieve:
The site has to be fast With the combination of Node.js and Docpad's static file generation. I have a very snappy website. There's no need for caching plugins or mysql tuning. It also means my hosting needs are much lighter = cheaper.
I want a minimal design Bootstrap gives you the control to go as minimalistic or as artsy-fartsy you want. Luckily it starts out minimal and lets you use various nifties when they're called for.
I want to support mobile devices Again bootstrap delivered this for me automatically. I just had to include the responsive CSS file and it works like magic. It could use some refinement, but it's a tremendous platform to start from.
I did have to make one significant compromise in my Fine Art image gallery. Previously, I created a web-based image uploader. It would create smaller versions of the original image. It would extract all the EXIF data and store it in a database. I say it was easy to implement only because I know how to build something like that. Getting rid of a database with my infant knowledge of Node.js and Docpad led me to rethink how I could implement this without weeks of development.
I ended up moving all of my images to my Smugmug account and then setup my portfolio to work sort of like a blog. Only it's pulling the images out of my Smugmug account. The biggest drawback is having to manually input all the image EXIF data for each shot. The big upside now is having the ability to utilize Smugmug's e-commerce features for selling prints.
So it's taking me a bunch of time to get my portfolio filled out from all the data entry I'm doing. There are 300+ images. I don't publish more than a single Landscape every day, so it won't be such a burden once I get it all caught up.
My site is far from finished and I've had a few weeks of little sleep learning and hacking, but I'm extremely satisfied. I have clearly met me goals and I think the user experience is very positive. I love minimalistic design because it focuses on the content rather than the medium. I don't want people to necessary think about my website, I want them to notice my photography and witty blog posts. I also want all of this information to be easy to find with clear navigation.
Like any website, they are never finished. This only the begining of a new edition. Check back often to see my portfolio fill out. I am going to updated my portrait photography page with new packages and pricing. Subtle things like RSS links so you can subscribe to my blog feed and social icons so you can follow me on Facebook.
On January 11, 2012 I set a bold goal of transitioning into a professional photographer by June. I would be walking away from my web development career into the world of self-employment. Today, it's a year later and I was supposed to cut the cord from my 9-5 six months ago. Did I accomplish my goal? In part I have, but I am still sitting at a desk working for someone else.
So what did I actually accomplish?
On the practical side of things, I have built a solid foundation for a portrait photography business. One of the first things I had to do was build up my portfolio. In the beginning, I shot for free and for everyone that was willing. In hindsight I needed much more than a portfolio, I needed some experience. Shooting something like a wedding is a high-pressure and fast-paced environment. Learning how to operate my camera, setup lighting, pose people and do it all with a smile takes time and you can't learn all of that reading a blog.
Finding people who want their pictures taken for free is easy. The trick is securing those life-sustaining paying clients which is a complicated problem when you're bootstrapping your business. I couldn't just throw a bunch of money at the problem. At first my only serious plan for finding clients was through word of mouth on Facebook. I would share tagged pictures of all my portraits so everyone's friends and family would see the shots. Many photographers generate their leads this way, but they are much more connected with their local communities than I am. I'm still practicing this, but it has yet to lead to a single shoot for me. It's just going to take more time for me.
I didn't want to wait forever to start generate leads through word of mouth. So I branched out into advertising through Google Adsense. I was able to target very specific keywords and people searching between Redding and Chico. This generated traffic on my website, but my phone never rang. Why? I believe it was related to my pricing in relation to my non-existent reputation. You can read advice on blogs everywhere exhorting photographers to charge what their worth. The bloggers are speaking to the epidemic where photography is slowly getting devalued. Many photography consumers including some businesses have this expectation that photography should be very cheap or free. While I completely agree this is a problem and that photographers should charge what they're worth, I just don't think you can charge whatever you want right out of the gate. Even if your photography is as good as those that do charge premium prices, you may not be worth that much yet.
Yes, your work has to be world-class, but your reputation and brand-awareness are almost more important that the quality of your images. It's supply and demand. If no one knows who you are, there is no demand for your services. When the demand grows to a level causing you to work too much, you can charge more. All of that to say I was charging too much. I clearly list my prices on my website, so I never got called.
Concurrently, when I changed my pricing I also worked on my website's portrait pages. There were two big problems with my website. The pages that explained my portraiture were somewhat hard to find and they didn't do a good job explaining what I do. I wanted them to have a clear message and I wanted them to be beautiful. So I cleaned the text up significantly and I dotted them with big copies of my best portraits. What these pages need to do is completely win over the reader. By the time they get to the bottom where they see the pricing, they will have already decided to hire me. At this point, the price is easier to talk about.
Those changes were important, but they weren't doing me any good if no one was looking at them outside of the expensive Adsense clicks I was paying for. Up until this point, I hadn't paid any attention to my rankings in the search engine result pages. For simple local queries like "Red Bluff Photographer", I wasn't landing on page one. It was time for some search engine optimization (SEO). Focusing on ranking for local searches, like my example above, I managed to move up the second spot behind the established studio in town pretty quickly. About four months ago, I earned the coveted #1 result for most of the local keywords I'm targeting. Stay tuned for another post going into more detail about SEO for portrait photographers.
To answer the original question asking what I actually accomplished, I earned bookings. In fact my summer calendar is filling up with weddings fast. Factoid: I didn't know a single one of the clients I booked personally and they were not referred. What this means is my business is growing without relying on word of mouth and all the work I put into SEO and perfecting my pages is working. My clients are doing a Google search, see my listing ranked #1, click on it, discover my packages, like my work and thought my pricing was merited. Shizaam! When word of mouth starts to take into effect, I'll be getting leads from two sources instead of just one. Two sources for leads will level out the flow of leads keeping work in front of me and food on the table.
I cannot emphasize enough how important having a great website is. There is so much more than registering a domain name, setting up Wordpress or Smugmug template and putting some pretty pictures on the internet. I don't know about you, but I have this tendency to want to get everything perfect from the outset. This leads me to get less done because I want everything to be just right. Please don't be afraid to make mistakes. Do your best, learn what works and make changes. This process of iteration never ends. You may be thinking I wasn't very specific about what I did to those pages to make them better and you're right. Everyone is looking for the recipe for a successful website when there isn't one. Everyone is different and their website will have to meet their unique needs. Keep learning and keep experimenting.
Stay tuned for my next post where I talk about the new goals I've created after learning a few things that worked and many others that haven't.
As a father of five boys, I can totally relate to the Gleason's family of three boys. So much energy and curiosity, it's easy for them to forget they are there to have their pictures taken. We met up at William Ide Adobe in Red Bluff at the peak of the fall color which made for a wonderful setting full of vivid colors. With all this sun we've been getting, the green grass is going to start pushing up and it will be green again here in Red Bluff so now is a great time to shoot your family. Give me a call, 530-727-8020.
To see the full album where prints are available, checkout the Family Portrait Album